Guantánamo Public Memory Project

This Week in Guantánamo: 2011 and 2012


Guantanamo Bay Naval Base
Guantánamo Bay detainee recidivism rates have been all over the news this week, but statistics vary between reports. According to some sources, referencing a report by the U.S. Director of National Intelligence, 27.9 percent of the 599 former Guantánamo Bay detainees are believed to have returned to military activity.

But according to the Associated Press, this statistic comes from combining two statistics: that of 15.9 percent overall who are confirmed to have returned to military activity, and a separate 12 percent who are suspected to have returned to military activity. And the term recidivism is not entirely accurate, since many former Guantánamo detainees were never convicted of terrorism or military involvement.

This news comes at a complicated time for President Obama, who is currently in negotiations with Taliban insurgents to release five Guantánamo Bay detainees.

According to the same National Intelligence report recidivism has decreased during President Obama’s term. Only 3 of the 67 detainees released since he took office (and 2 suspected) have returned to military activity, making President Obama’s recidivism rate 7.5 percent.

In other news:

  • Guantánamo Bay prison sentences are less stringent than you might think.
  • $744,000 Guantánamo Bay soccer field continues to fuel controversy.

  • 2011:

    Barack Obama

    President Barack Obama - Photo courtesy Flickr/with-eyes-closed

    This week last year, President Barack Obama resumed trials for Guantánamo Bay detainees. This news confirmed what many suspected – that the Guantánamo Bay naval base would remain open for some time.

    In 2009, President Obama gave an executive order affirming that Guantánamo Bay detainees have the right of habeas corpus, and that the base would be closed no less than one year from that date. Defense Secretary Robert Gates further banned any new cases against terror suspects at Guantánamo. President Obama’s Executive Order on March 7, 2011 undid his January 22, 2009 proclamation.

    Regarding his decision, President Obama is quoted by the Guardian as saying: “I strongly believe that the American system of justice is a key part of our arsenal in the war against al-Qaida and its affiliates, and we will continue to draw on all aspects of our justice system – including Article III courts – to ensure that our security and our values are strengthened.”

    At this time, there were 172 detainees at Guantánamo Bay.


    Creative: Picture Projects & Tronvig Group